Some Chick-fil-A stores in Alabama have informed their customers that they are closing their dining rooms because they are exhausted due to a staffing crisis. One said that “our team cannot continue at the pace we are at.”
Stories of restaurants restricting or temporarily closing days and hours have become commonplace this summer, and the difficulty of hiring and retaining staff has often been cited as a factor. Dave’s Pizza in Homewood recently drew attention to itself with an appeal on social media that said, “We’re going to hire literally everyone.” While COVID-19 may be partly to blame, a tight labor market is also an issue: Alabama unemployment fell to 3.2% in July, nearing the historic low of 2.7% hit just before the pandemic broke out .
Even so, the statements made recently by several Chick-fil-A stores in Alabama stand out. The chain is known for strong customer service and their business has been resilient during the pandemic. But the stores say a staff shortage has caused them to close their dining rooms.
The stores in question include Chick-fil-A Calera on Ala. 304; Chick-fil-A McCalla, a store in the Tannehill Promenade shopping center in Bessemer; and Chick-fil-A Madison, on US 72 west of Huntsville.
“You may have noticed that we closed our dining room, disabled delivery to the curb and limited the number of catering orders we will take,” said a statement released on Friday by the Calera store that owns its dining room Closed at the end of July. “This was done to reduce the stress on our team. We have some of the best team members in the world. You work hard every day but are tired and stressed. We have grown tremendously, but we have to expand our roster. “
“We are in the midst of a personnel crisis along with many other companies, both locally and nationally,” said a message posted on the McCalla restaurant’s Facebook page on Saturday. “As we move into the busiest time of the year for our restaurant, September through December, and both high school and college students are returning to school and the soccer / vacation season is fast approaching, we cannot schedule enough team members To offer the excellent service that our guests deserve.
“The hospitality industry has suffered a great loss since the beginning of 2020 and we are not immune to this loss. We are grateful for the support we have received from our loyal community throughout 2020 and the first half of 2021, ”the message continued. “We are very grateful, but our team cannot continue at the pace at which we are. Our team members are exhausted and there is no relief for them in our squad. “
Madison restaurant posted a similar message on its Facebook page on Saturday but added more details about the hiring challenge.
“We’re doing everything we can to hire more team members,” said a statement attributed to operator Norman Dull. “We see a lot fewer applicants or people who don’t show up for their interviews. The restaurant industry has suffered from a hiring perspective during the pandemic and unfortunately Chick-fil-A is not immune to this labor shortage. “
Calera’s statement listed some of the same issues, adding that she was struggling with new hires “who take a job only to quit within the first few weeks”.
The Madison Declaration concluded, “PS…. if you know someone who has a quick job, free Sundays, a comfortable work environment and the opportunity to grow as a team member ……. they should call us. “
The McCalla store dining room, which reopened on July 20th, will be closed again on Monday, August 23rd. The store will continue to operate its transit and continue to offer roadside pickup. The Madison Store will maintain drive-through service, but will discontinue roadside mobile ordering and mobile transportation.
Several other stores, including locations in Dothan, Spanish Fort and Daphne, closed dining rooms in late July due to the surge in COVID-19 cases. Some, like Chick-fil-A Vestavia Hills, have cited a mix of COVID concerns and staff shortages.